July 7, 2021



Commentary for July 7, 2021:

I figured if any NPC from Freedom Planet was likely to try and make Eggman go away by giving him what he wants, it’d be Zao. Zao is a curious character. Ostensibly, he’s the elected ruler of Shang Mu, but the circumstances of his election feel more than a bit sus. His position as mayor and the many privileges that come with it seem to be his top priorities and, well, you can’t really be mayor of a city that’s been wiped off the map, can you? He was willing to steal the Kingdom Stone to avert a local energy crisis in the original Freedom Planet game, so I figured he’d be willing to hire the Red Scarves to steal the Sol Emeralds in order to give them to Eggman in the hopes of him leaving Shang Mu alone. More the fool him. Yes, curse your sudden-but-inevitable betrayal, Eggman! That villain is so much fun to write.

In any case, this was originally the first scene on Avalice I scripted for this chapter. I didn’t write the cold open featuring Spade and the Red Scarves’ raid on the Sol Temple until later in the writing process. Zao being the one to deliver the Sol Emeralds to Eggman made perfect sense. That said, the setting of this scene changed a bit from the original plan. At first, it was to take place in one of the Death Egg’s launch bays, with Zao disembarking from an aircraft. Honestly, the reason I moved it to the Death’s Egg’s bridge instead was because I knew just how much time a much more complex background would likely take me to draw. I create most “sets” as 3D models and then draw over them in Paint Shop Pro, as I’ve explained in previous commentaries, but that doesn’t actually save me that much time; it’s more about getting perspective right. I also wasn’t sure what kind of aircraft Zao should arrive aboard, but I was leaning towards some kind of helicopter. The problem is, I haven’t made a model of one and I prefer not to make a model that I’m not going to get a lot of use out of. To do a decent job of a model like that, I often need to take several days on it, after all. That kind of time investment needs to be paid back and, at this time, I don’t know how much use I’d get out of an Avalician helicopter. So it was simply easier to just have Zao come to Eggman on the bridge and skip all that unnecessary work. No need to make a launch bay at this time or a chopper.

Sometimes I fear that my use of 3D models as guides for my drawing makes me a bit of a fraud. I can’t draw freehand without sacrificing perspective or drawing some things very inconsistently, so I use 3D models I’ve made as a basic guide. It keeps perspective right and generally keeps characters’ respective heights (and occasionally other properties) consistent. But I’ve felt quite reassured recently by watching through the entire catalogue of Walt Disney Animation Studios films. They cut corners to save time (and more importantly to them, money) in a lot of their films, too. People like to complain about how their films are all CGI now, as opposed to being traditionally animated; but really, they haven’t used "traditional" animation since 1959. From 1961 to 1989, they used photocopying to skip hand painting the line art onto the animation cells, and they’ve employed CGI in pretty much all their films since the ‘The Black Cauldron’ in 1985. Moving to fully CGI movies was a natural evolution of this process, and you can see the gradual change as you watch through those films, particularly during the Disney renaissance era. I get that some people prefer the look of 2D animation, but there isn’t a hard line between traditional animation and modern CGI.

Where was this mini rant going...?

Oh yes, the fact that Disney used computer generated models to assist with the animation of things like the gears inside Big Ben in ‘The Great Mouse Detective’, the New York traffic in ‘Oliver and Company’, the ships in ‘The Little Mermaid’, et cetera, has helped reassure me that my artistic process is valid. I wish I could draw this stuff completely freehand, but I can’t, and the method I use to get Eon’s World Vol. 2 looking the way it does these days is perfectly acceptable.

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